Holy Grail of Fat Loss, or Pseudo-Science Garbage?
Well, the answer here is that it can be both unfortunately. As we all know, different approaches to training and diet will achieve different results depending on the person. Genetic and natural variations will always ensure that there will never be a clear cut 100% guaranteed approach that will work for everyone. There are a few set of guidelines we can follow to quickly get going in the right direction though and save us some time.
How Does Carb Cycling Work?
First let’s explain what carb cycling is and how it “works”. Carb cycling is the method having different amounts of carb s on different days. There are many different ways to manipulate this but the standard method is 3-7 day zero carb “set up period” to deplete stored glycogen, followed by a cycle of low/no carb day, moderate carb day and high carb day. Generally the low/no carb days will be on a rest day.
It’s important to note that with a carb cycle, the target calories stay the same for every day, and are balanced out by having more fats on lower carb days to still hit calorie targets. The idea behind it is that on the low carb days, your body will be low on glycogen storage so will keep insulin to a minimum to burn more fat, and the higher days will maintain/reefed your glycogen stores to produce an anti catabolic effect and preserve muscles.
Applying Carb Cycling
Now this is all very nice in theory, but as usual we need to hand this over to mother science for application! And unfortunately, the results of fat loss group’s carb cycling to groups that weren’t were negligible at best. Now this is where it gets annoying. Some of the subjects did in fact lose more weight from cycling, and these subjects were generally more endomorph (heavy set, square body types). This is thought to be because this body type just doesn’t metabolise carbohydrates as effectively as ectomorphs and mesomorph body types.
So to summarise, chances are, if you’re a heavy set endomorph body type then carb cycling may very well get you some fantastic results and preserve all that hard earned muscle while shredding you up, however, if you’re more towards the ecto/mesomorph body types then chances are you won’t see much difference from just dieting on a standard calorie deficit.